A senior Kenyan official at the State House has criticised the United States for raising concerns about anew kenyan law aimed at fighting “terrorism”.
Munyori Buku said in a statement on the presidential website that Kenya’s new law had checks and balances, unlike US security laws that have created the Guantanamo Bay detention centre and given the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and intelligence officers “a carte blanche in the fight against terrorism and biological warfare”.
On Friday, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the law his government says will help fight terorism. The president said the law will protect the lives of all citizens. But critics in Kenya have said it will be used to crush dissent by curbing civil liberties.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday said the US was concerned about the move.
“We’re…concerned about provisions that appear to limit freedom of assembly and media, and access to asylum for refugees.”
Kenya’s main opposition group, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy. said the real target of the new law was not terrorism but to reintroduce the police state and political hegemony, and would hand the president sweeping autocratic powers.
The controversial measures extend the time police can hold “terror suspects” from the current 90 days to nearly a year, increase sentences and give more powers to tap phones.
Journalists could face up to three years behind bars if their reports “undermine investigations or security operations relating to terrorism,” or if they publish images of “terror victims” without permission from the police.